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15 January, 2018

Search The Scriptures —Study 10 — Daniel 9:1-19

Study 10 From the Book of Daniel is:  Daniel 9:1-19

1-     Consider the effect of the fall of Babylon upon one who, like Daniel, saw in it a fulfilment of prophecy (verse 2; cf. Je. 25:11; 29:10-14; 50:1-5). What did it lead him to do (cf. Ezk. 36:37), and what light do verses 2 and 3 throw upon the use of Scripture in our praying?
2-     As you read through Daniel’s prayer, how would you describe his praying? See especially verses 3 and 19. In his confession, how does he speak of God? How of himself and his people? In his petition, on what does he base his plea for mercy, and for what does he ask?


14 January, 2018

Search The Scriptures —Study 9 — Daniel 8

Study 9 From the Book of Daniel is: Daniel 8

The vision of this chapter received historical fulfilment in the overthrow of Persia by Alexander the Great (330 BC), the division of Alexander’s kingdom into four (‘but not with his power’, verse 22), and the rise of Antiochus Epiphanes, who did what is here foretold of him in verses 9-12 and 23-25 (170-164, BC). Gabriel’s emphasis, however, upon the vision having to do with ‘the time of the end’ (see verses 17 and 19) suggests that its meaning is not exhausted in Antiochus, but that he is only a type of one greater than he, and yet to come, who will act in a similar way. Cf. 7:24-26 and Mt. 24:15; 2 Thes. 2:8-10.
1-     What expression is used both of the ram and of the he-goat in the time of their prosperity, and also of the king of verse 23? Yet what was the end of these kingdoms? Notice the repetition of the verb ‘to break’.
2-     Why was Daniel so deeply affected by this vision? Consider how the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel seemed to indicate that the return from exile would coincide with the advent of the kingdom of God (see, e.g., Je., 32:37-44; Ezk. 37:21-28); but this vision shows long vistas of history stretching into the future, and further suffering for the Jews.
1-     Verse 9. ‘The glorious land’: i.e., Palestine
2-     Verse 10. ‘The host of heaven… stars’: used figuratively of Israel and her leaders.
3-     Verse 11. ‘The prince of the host’: i.e., God Himself. Cf. verse 25.
4-     Verse 12. Israel was to be given over into the power of the ‘horn’ because of transgressions, and true religion was to be supressed.
5-     Verse 14. If the burnt offering ceased for 2, 3000 times, that would be 1, 150 days, which is a little more than three years.  It is known that Antiochus did suspend the burnt offering for three years and possibly a little longer.

13 January, 2018

Search The Scriptures —Study 8 — Daniel 7

Study 8 From the Book of  Daniel is:  Daniel 7

The chapter records, first, the vision (verses 2:14); then the general interpretation (verses 15-18); then Daniel’s enquiry concerning three features of the vision (verses 19, 20); and lastly, the answer given to these enquiries.

1-     Assuming the four kingdoms to be the same as those which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream (chapter 2), what is there new in this vision which caused Daniel such distress and agitation of spirit (verses 15, 28))?
2-     To Nebuchadnezzar the kingdoms of this world appeared in the glittering splendour of material wealth and power, whereas by Daniel they are seen as beast of prey. What is the difference between these points of view, and which is the deeper and truer view? Cf. 1 Sa. 16:7; Mt. 4:8; 1 Jn. 2:16, 17.
3-     What is to be the final goal of history to which this vision looks forward?  Who are meant by ‘the saints of the Most High’  (verse 18)? What privileges will they have in the days to come?
1-     Verse 5. The bear represented the Medo-Persian Empire, noted for its greed for further conquest.
2-     Verse 6. The wings on the leopards’ back indicate the swiftness of Alexander’s campaigns. After his death his empire was divided into four parts.
3-     Verse 7. The fourth beast is either the Seleucid Empire, with its many kings (horns), of whom Antiochus Epiphanes was the most deadly, or Rome with its many emperors, under one of whom arose the Son of man.

12 January, 2018

Search The Scriptures —Study 7 — Daniel 6

Study 7 From the Book of Daniel is: Daniel 6

            The identity of Darius the Mede is still a matter for debate, but the most likely candidates are Gobryas (Gubaru), the governor or Babylon, or Cyrus the king. This is one of many instances of biblical interpretation over which the reader has to admit that he simply does not know the answer until fresh evidence comes to light to help to solve the mystery.
       1-     Neither pressure of business nor the threat of death kept Daniel from prayer. How is it with you? Do you think that other qualities in Daniel’s character revealed in this chapter were the outcome of his prayer life? What were those qualities?  Cf. Is. 40:29-31; Phil: 4:5, 6.
      2-     Is your faith of such a kind that you can stand alone in obedience to God without external support? Are we so living that even our keenest critics take it for granted that the will of God comes first in our lives, come that what may?

11 January, 2018

Search The Scriptures —Study 6 — Daniel 5

Study 6 From the Book of  Daniel is:  Daniel 5

Babylon fell in 539 BC, twenty-three years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar. A quarter of a century, therefore, has elapsed since the events of chapter 4.
      1-     What four accusations did Daniel bring against Belshazzar? In what two ways was Belshazzar’s sin aggravated and made more heinous?
       2-     Consider the judgment pronounced upon Belshazzar as symbolizing the divine judgment upon all ungodliness, whether in national or individual life. See verses 26 – 28, and cf. Pr. 15:3, 9; Ec. 8:11-13.

       1-     The identity of Belshazzar was for long unknown, but he is now known to have been the eldest son of King Nabonidus (556-59), and to have shared the duties of the throne with his father. While Nabonidus was a way from Babylon, his son had supreme authority there.
       2-     Verse 10, ‘The queen’: probably the queen-mother, window of Nebuchadnezzar.
       3-     Verses 25-28. The words represent three weights or coins, viz mina, shekel, and peres or half-mina. But the interpretation conceals numerous plays on words, for the verbal roots mean ‘to number to weight and to divide’. In the case of ‘peres’, ‘to divide’, a further similarity to the word for Persian has been used.

10 January, 2018

Search The Scriptures —Study 5 — Daniel 4

Study 5 From the Book of Daniel is: Daniel 4

The theme of this chapter is pride. It takes the form of a decree by Nebuchadnezzar announcing the strange psychical affliction he has undergone, through which he has learnt the all-important lesson that
‘the Most High rules the kingdom of men, and gives it to whom he will’ (verse 25).  It can be compared with Is. 14:8-17 and Ezk. 1-10, passages which in their turn look back to the basic sin of humanity (Gn. 3).

       1-     How effective was the king’s experience in bringing him to humility? Contrast his attitude to God and confession of Him in this chapter with his previous utterances in 2:47; 3:29. How would you define the change?
      2-     What are the main themes of Daniel’s teaching in this situation? With verse 27, cf. Mi. 6:8.
      1-     Verse 13. ‘A watcher, a holy one’: i.e., an angelic figure who acted with the authority of God.
      2-     Verse 33. The mental derangement, known as zoanthropy, lasted for a set period described as ‘seven times’ (verse 16). This could mean ‘seven years’ or simply ‘a substantial period of time’.  In the apocryphal ‘Prayer of Nabonidus’, found a Qumran, it is recorded that King Nabonidus, a successor of Nebuchadnezzar, spent seven years of his reign in isolation at Teima because of some strange illness. So this chapter is not without parallel in ancient traditions.

09 January, 2018

Search The Scriptures —Study 4 — Daniel 3

Study 4 From the Book of Daniel is:  Daniel 3

In the opening part of this chapter the king manifests a very different attitude towards the Lord from that of 2:47. The probable reason is that between chapters 2 and 3 there is an interval of several years, during which Nebuchadnezzar had evidence that his own god was greater than the God of the Jews (cf. verse 15b). It accounts also for the enmity of the Chaldean officials against Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They would resent Jews continuing to hold rule over the province of Babylon.

      1-     What threefold accusation was brought against the three Hebrews? Consider how subtly it was worded to stir the king’s anger.
      2-     How does this trial of faith differ from anything these men had had to meet hitherto? For similar instances of courage see Acts 4:8-12; 5:29-32; 2 Tim. 4:16, 17. What purposes were served by the miracle of deliverance which God wrought?